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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Web Page 995

Top Picture: MacDonald Hobley

Second Picture: The home of radio comedy Broadcasting House.

Does the Team Think?

It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Any Questions? was about anything but the latest political fashions. When it began in 1948, Freddie Grisewood would ask local celebrities serious questions with a topical bent, but nothing that might be debated in Parliament within the next fortnight. At least that was the way it started.

This format was deemed just ripe for parody, and in 1957 the moustashioed comedian Jimmy Edwards convinced the BBC Light Programme to run a short series, featuring a panel who would not too serious questions answer questions put to them by members of the public. The BBC took up the idea and the series ran each year for almost twenty years. Jimmy Edwards was joined on the resident panel byBig Hearted Arthur Askey and Ted Ray, all of whom were very quick witted and they were joined by a different guest panelist each week. The Chairman MacDonald Hobley invited members of the audience to ask moderately serious questions, about which the panel had no prior knowledge. The comedians would respond with improvised jokes, one-liners, and anything to keep up the flow of laughs, but always ensuring that their responses were factual. Another guest would join the show about halfway through proceedings, and ask a question of their own. At the end, the chair would award points on a capricious basis, and declare an almost arbitrary winner. The programme remained popular until it was finally taken off air in 1976.

A television version was made in summer 1961 with the same panel, but it met with very limited success. Thames Television revived the format in 1982, in which members of the public were asked to baffle The Team with unusual facts about life and the universe. The emphasis was still on wit, humour, and moving expeditiously from one joke to the next. The celebrity guest slot remained - in the first show, Dr. Magnus Pike was the guest and asked the team if they knew that water in Britain goes down a plughole clockwise but in Australia anti-clockwise. Thames Television had high hopes for the programme, putting it out in the 7pm slot on Thursdays opposite Tomorrow's World, but those ITV regions that did buy the show aired it around teatime, or in the mid-afternoon death slot.
The Team

Jimmy Edwards DFC (23 March 1920 – 7 July 1988) was best known as Pa Glum in Take it From Here and as the headmaster 'Professor' James Edwards in Whack O.
He was born James Keith O'Neill Edwards in Barnes the son of a professor of mathmatics. He was educated at St Paul’s Cathedral School and Cambridge. He served in the RAF during the War earning the DFC. He was shot down at Arnham in 1944, resulting in facial injuries which he disguised the huge huge handlebar moustache that later became his trademark.
He was a feature of London theatre in the immediate post-war years, debuting at the Windmill in 1946 and on BBC radio the same year. He worked with Tony Hancock and then in Take it from Here. Graduating to television, he appeared in Whack O. He frequently worked with Eric Sykes and they also toured UK theatres with their theatrical farce Big Bad Mouse. Among his interests were brass bands and he was himself an accomplished player of both the tuba and the euphonium.. He was a keen amateur polo player and played at the Ham Polo Club. In the 1964 General Election stood as a candidate in Paddington North without success. He was a devotee of fox hunting. served as Rector of Aberdeen University for three years during the 1950’s. He was married to Valerie Seymour for eleven years. During the 1970s, however, he was publicly outed by others as a lifelong homosexual, much to his annoyance. His home was in Fletching, East Sussex and he died in London in 1988 at the age of 68 from pneumonia.

Arthur Bowden Askey was born in Liverpool on 6th June 1900. After being educated at the Liverpool Institute and singing in the Liverpool Cathedral choir he entered the Liverpool Education Offices as a clerk. At the age of 16 he gave this up and began as an entertainer around the local clubs. During the First World War he joined the forces he soon began performing at army shows. Following this, he spent 14 years working the concert party circuit before landing a part, in 1938, on BBC radio in Band Wagon. Arthur quickly became famous for his catchphrase "Ay-Thang-Yew".
Band Waggon was quickly adapted for the stage and as a feature film (1939). After the Second World War Arthur remained as popular as ever although his first TV series in 1952, Before Your Very Eyes! was only moderately well received until the introduction of the completely dumb voluptuous blonde, Sabrina (Norma Sykes), whose fondness for tight fitting dresses turned her into British TV's first sex-symbol. There were other TV series but in the main he would be content as the special guest star or topping the bill at the Palladium. The diminutive comedian (he was 5 foot 3 inches) continued to work into his eighties and in 1980 he made one of his last appearances at The Royal Variety Show. Following this he suffered from circulatory problems in his legs, which ultimately led him to having both amputated. Arthur Askey died on 16th November 1982.

Ted RayTed Ray was born Charles Olden on 21st November 1905, the son of a Wigan comedian. He stage name was inspired by a famous golfer of the 1920s, whose name he had selected from a sporting diary. He worked as a ship's steward, an office clerk and a dance band violinist before he made his debut at the Palace Theatre, Preston, Lancashire in 1927. Three years later, he was appearing in London Music Hall. The height of Ted Ray's fame was through his work in radio comedy, where his own series, Ray's A Laugh which began in 1949, rapidly became a firm household favourite, running eventually for twelve years. This popularity lead to four appearances - three of them consecutive - in the prestigious Royal Variety Performance. Ted Ray also made appearances in feature films, his earliest being Elstree Calling (1930), followed by Radio Parade of 1935 (1935). He featured in a run of films in the 1950s, including the starring role in Carry On Teacher (1959), an early entry in Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas' long running and hugely successful film series.

After receiving serious injuries in a 1975 car crash, Ted Ray cut down his public appearances to a minimum, meaning he was unable to appear in the tenth anniversary edition of It's A Knockout, where he would have joined original co-hosts McDonald Hobley and Charlie Chester. He died in hospital following a heart attack on Tuesday 8th November 1977 aged 71. He left a wife, Dorothy, and their two sons, Andrew Ray, the actor, and BBC producer and Face the Music panellist, Robin Ray.
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Chris writes:-

The Green Thing

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to her and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment." She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.

News and Views:

Lee Pockriss, composer of such hits as "Catch A Falling Star," "Johnny Angel," and "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini," died Monday November 14th at his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the age of 87.

On this day 2nd December 1960-1965:-

On 02/12/1960 the number one single was It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 02/12/1961 the number one single was Little Sister/His Latest Flame - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was "Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV)".

On 02/12/1962 the number one single was Lovesick Blues - Frank Ifield and the number one album was On Stage with the Black & White Minstrels - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 02/12/1963 the number one single was She Loves You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 02/12/1964 the number one single was Baby Love - Supremes and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 02/12/1965 the number one single was The Carnival is Over - Seekers and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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